Revision

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To revision is to re-envision a piece be it a room, a poem, a story or in my case several canvases. It is at least three years since they were originally sketched out and I cannot remember exactly what story I wanted to tell on their surface. While many artist want to paint in Pablo Picasso’s words paint the perfect picture  I want to tell a story or a glimpse into a story I have written or may have yet to write and the characters of a particular tale are still ghostly shapes I see in dreams. Drawing and painting gives me the opportunity to get to know them better and what they what to accomplish from their personal crisis. Telling a story reveals how an individual overcame an all encompassing crisis.

Cinderella had a fairy godmother to overcome her desire to go to the royal ball and still hide the fact from her evil stepmother. Aesop’s Fables are mostly about this type of dilemma; How to accomplish your desire and as in The Fox and the Crow’s story the fox is not above outright lying to seize a piece of cheese. Art is a sort of lie that tells the deepest of truths, a truth we cannot admit out loud but to put it in plain sight for others to see. While Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be the most famous painting on planet Earth it seems we are still scratching our heads to what truth he wanted to reveal, to hide in plain sight.

I have been to her gallery at the Louvre four times and in those four visits with other tourists pushing and crowding in to take a photograph of the Mona Lisa. What is obvious is that the Mona Lisa is like a sphinx in that she seems to be still in possession of some great secret that the rest of her society seems ignorant of. What could that secret be? In a world where it was perfectly normal for a fiftyish man to wed a fourteen year old girl/child and because he possessed the wealth to have a famous Italian painter paint her portrait it legitimized the disparity of their age difference? Was it while men ruled nearly every corner of Europe they were dependant on the fertility of a virgin to bring forth heirs to rule their future legacy? Or could it be like Mrs. Darling’s sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan? We may never know exactly what she was thinking while Leonardo worked on her portrait for more than sixteen years. What we may discern fully five hundred years later that Mona Lisa was in fact a fully functioning thinking human being and not merely house ornamentation for her husband’s opulent home.

Having unpacked most of our household goods from New Jersey and the fact that we have a smaller home I do not have the luxury of warehousing canvases in an attic while I work on a new piece. On this our home planet Earth in the final month of 2019 we may take a page from the old masters of art and that is to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Many of the great masters of art were notorious for painting over work that, well wasn’t working for them and while it is a challenging endeavor to repurpose a canvas it is something well within the grasp of a thinking human being.

Our last full moon of 2019 will shine out December 11th please do not forget to take a moment away from the rush of commerce and look to the heavens above and smile your own private smile.

All the very, very best for a sparkling holiday season and a joyous New Year!

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And Bijou Too…

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A comedian once said that the difference between animals and human beings is their ability to accessorize. Animals do not really need to they’re born with fur, feathers, or scales. We may take accessories as trivial and even mundane; but every student of archaeology knows when ancient human bones are discovered that is a skeleton however when pottery shards and beads are uncovered that reveals a culture.

Culture equals a society; a community of people and even if they did not record their thoughts and ideas their jewelry is one remnant of these lost people.  Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, New York City or the Louvre on the right bank of Paris, France and you will see they have display cases loaded with beautiful wearable art made for people hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Typically this museum art is what I call tomb jewelry; made for an important individual and buried with them so that those in their afterlife will know they were a significant being, they were important because they have bling.   What do our modern accessories say to the world around us? Men finish a suit with a necktie and women may select a scarf or necklace and earrings, but what do we know about the actual creator of what we are tying around our neck and hanging on our ears? What would they reveal about us in a thousand years?

Ancient beads have been uncovered from many cultures around the planet and were probably developed independently. Today beads can be purchased in nearly all craft stores and imported from all over the world. Beads are an easy introduction for wearable art. My summers spent in central Pennsylvania introduced me and my brothers to Straits Hobby Shop in the Borough of Huntingdon. We could pick out fishing lures to fish with or as my brother learned he could buy the supplies and create his own fly fishing lures.

There were many types of hobbies to occupy us through our rainy summer days, but my maternal grandmother was known for her custom beaded necklaces. She always had dozens of tubes of glass beads for me to try stringing a necklace. A spool of brass wire and I explored making earrings of my own design. Even today when we travel I keep a look out for local bead shops.

Glass beads from the Czech Republic, semi precious stone malachite and black onyx can up the appeal of simple glass seed beads. It is all about personal preference and what is appealing to me. Some of my beads have been strung and restrung on necklaces since I was in first grade and are still a favorite bead and timeless in its appeal. It isn’t often I can afford the time to sit quietly, my supplies in front of me like an artist’s palette, but unlike a painting I don’t have to frame it..I am the art and my necklace is my edge.

The other day I was chiding myself for being such a magpie and later that day I saw a special on National Geographic Channel about a lost culture of the Green Sahara. Sure there were pottery pieces uncovered at this dig in the Sahara Dessert but it was the bangle made from the tooth of hippopotamus on the skeleton of a ten year old girl that reminded me that a culture is defined by what they leave behind.

My maternal grandmother left me with hundreds of beads that I have shared with many others and that is the best kind of legacy; one that continues long after we have departed.

A few weekends ago when tropical storm Nestor was unsettling the west coast of Florida, I decided to unpack my beads in the event we lost power I did not want to be left with a palette of wet paint. We selected our condo for the natural light in my potential studio and even without electric lights on an overcast day and I was still able to string my beads, creating a new piece of wearable art.

Light is the major difference between summer and winter; its warming glow nurturing plants or its absence advancing winter.  November can be the beginning of preparations for the holiday season, and the inevitable cold, dark corridor of winter. Will you fill in the dark with holiday lights, a television screen, and trips to museums in your local metropolis?   Perhaps a new hobby is waiting to be discovered or even rediscovered that will enlighten and inspire you. Don’t be dismayed by the dark, be the shimmer that illuminates the dark!

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And Lizards Too…

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Moving house is something that when done frequently feels almost like a normal part of life; for example people attached to the military services. We haven’t packed up our belongings and permanently changed our address in more than eighteen years. Our last home was the longest I had ever lived at one address my whole life and while I loved our location we felt change was healthy to growth. Like sneakers outgrown we looked forward to something different, something new, and somewhere exotic.

We have traveled to many places in our home country and even to other countries in Europe and inevitably we ask ourselves the ultimate question: could I live here? We have rented flats in Florence Italy, London England, Paris France, and Gustavia on Saint Barthélemy in the French West Indies. We like all of these wonderful locations and love what is available to the locals. However as much as I was enamored with the tropical flora and wildlife in St. Barths it is challenging to travel to; two or three flights and or two flights and a nauseating ferry ride. A passport is required for all of these locations and so would be challenging to some family members and we kept looking for a new address.

We considered Santa Barbara, California and I still smile when I think of its beautiful location nestled between scenic mountains and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. I would welcome a visit of two or three weeks but I am not sure we are ready to cross country just yet…but maybe someday we will. So we kept looking.

One year we decided to try a little Island on the Gulf of Mexico we could drive to from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after a visit with friends. We enjoyed the views as we drove further and further south and the transition of the scenery to more and more tropical. We drove over the elevated causeway to an island that we had read about, heard of and here it was an oasis of beautiful tamed jungle with 22 miles of paved bicycle paths. Would we be able to live on a daily basis without using a motorized vehicle? Yes!

Top speed on the island is thirty-five per miles hour, no traffic lights, nature is preserved and protected, and did I mention the 22 miles of paved bike paths? This looks like what we’ve been looking for. We’ll keep a car in case we want to take a trip to the airport or simply to go in town a.k.a. Fort Myers.

We took the leap and drove our rented truck south nearly 1,300 miles all while Hurricane Dorian was rattling the Caribbean and tormenting the southern east coast of Florida.

When folks up north hear you are moving to Florida they remind you of all the negatives: the heat in summer, hurricanes, alligators, palmetto bugs…some people have a huge list of reasons not to leave the north including the change of seasons, a beautiful snow covered yard (they forget snow continues right over the driveway and sidewalks too and doesn’t just cover the grass and trees). We were not dissuaded, this is my third move to Florida and interestingly in all three I left Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey around the end of August and the beginning of September.

We unpacked our belongings and began to settle into our new home; a condo within walking distance to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. I unpacked a box and began to walk down the hall when a creature on the floor caught my attention. My first thought was it’s not the giant palmetto bug of legends, it was nearly an inch long and then I realized it was a tiny, tiny baby lizard. Funny the reversal emotions take when you realize that it isn’t an insect but a small animal that somehow is in your living space. I tried for two days to catch the baby lizard all while its body got smaller and its head larger. Eventually we managed to trap it under a plastic bowl and slide a sheet of paper under it. I took it out to the foliage and left it under a shrub which it climbed up immediately.

For several days as we passed by we saw a lizard slightly larger, day by day until it seemed as all the other lizards in many sizes and proportions on the walkway and shrubbery. I smile, this is what I like to see in autumn; beautiful flowers, whispering palm trees, and happy frolicking lizards.

A Leap of Faith

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We have arrived amid our boxes of cargo through the threat of hurricane to arrive at our new island residence; bruised and broken nailed we are home. It seems a dream realized is to wash away all previous dreams of existence to be a new creation in a land of our choosing is at once surreal and divine, we are home. To be free of old constraints, to be liberated to walk a sandy beach strewn with shells of all denominations and sizes is to be reborn, we are home. We wonder at the enormous palm fronds as they rattle in the breezes blown in across the warm sands swept by the Gulf of Mexico endlessly and we are home.

Once upon a time I was a child born in the Commonwealth of Virginia where salty waters washed the coastal peninsulas known to the local residents as the Tidewater area. I believed all places were as magical as waking up and walking the sands to see what treasures were left by unseen salty muses. I believed then as I still do that those wild places unleashed into commerce and society our magical and so should be revered, and respected. To be restored to what I most loved as a child is humbling, we are home.

We stumbled upon this island oasis casually and without regard to how it would form all our future dreams of our life as we hoped for…Humans are taught to aspire for more and more when the more we have to manage, maintain, protect is a cage; an attractive cage but a cage all the same. Hansel and Greta should have been wary of the confection cottage and that is a lesson we should all remember, the fly caught in the syrupy sweet vice of the Venus Fly Trap plant will suffer the consequences of an easy meal. Moving to an island in the Gulf of Mexico was challenging in that we had to remember what was essential to our daily lives. We gave away entire rooms of furniture that were so essential to our former lives that seemed redundant once we considered a different type of life. We have less stuff and so more time for living, we are home.

What shall we do today? Walk the beach and gather seashells? Bicycle to the grocery store and post office to collect our mail? Rise for sunrises and time our day around the sunset? Swim in the ocean? These activities are all possible; we no longer have to daydream, because we are home.

Tales from the Sea

A Dark Radiance

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Luna gazed at her sister Terra reflectively, for once they were one. Her heart did not pulse with same vibrancy as when she and her sister were a single celestial body orbiting around their splendid golden star. Catastrophe divided them and left Luna to satellite her vibrant lapis-blue sister. Only when she was full and lit by their fiery goddess Soleil did Luna feel she regained her former splendor, for then she shown like a dazzling little star.

Peering through the deep blue void that separated Luna from her former self and then to Soleil who for one special night in thirty would cast her glow upon her and then she felt fabulous, radiant. Luna waited patiently for the light to fall on her face and to illuminate her surface. It seemed intolerable to be left in the dark so much, and yet without dark who can see the light?

Let Terra have her blue seas and green trees and snow capped mountains, Luna’s silvery brilliance controlled the very ebb and flow of Terra’s deep waters. Were it not for Luna’s strong pull Terra’s enormous seas would be merely vast stagnant lakes. Let the little kings of Terra boast of Luna’s infertile atmosphere, for without her powerful presence their shining seas would cease to shine and life as they knew it would cease to be.

The celestial bodies hummed along in their ethereal heavenly waltz across the night skies while people watched from their sandy seats by the sea. The moonrise was moments away and there on the horizon was the brilliant giant silver orb. As the golden sun melted into the blue waters on one horizon on the opposite horizon introduced the luminous Luna. And the event the people had gathered for: sea turtles hatching up from the still warm sand. The little hatchlings scrambled towards the salty surf that reflected the moon’s brilliancy off the surface.

Luna smiled at the irony, infertile atmosphere; why she was the rolling dance by which all sea life counted its very existence.

 

Tales from the Sea

 

A Summer’s Tale: A Wildling

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The wind rippled across the surface of the lagoon disturbing the heron’s focus from its prey. In the blue water below swam the boy shadowing the white sand. A dolphin swam alongside the blue-green child and leapt up to rile the heron as it took flight. The hot breeze stirred the fronds of the island palms and there for an instant was the notion of rain; not the fickle sort of rain that splatters one corner of a sidewalk, leaving the parched grass to turn to straw against the concrete. This was the type of rain that would flood streets, wash away vehicles and sweep homes from their foundations, but on this island there were no implements of living wrought to convenient animals gone tame and domestic. Here on this little removed island in the middle of the great big ocean galaxy was only wild. Wilder beasts than the unruly naked apes in their cities of concrete could even imagine.

The palm’s dry leaves rattled in the hot breeze and on the horizon a waterspout moved across the sea as if it were a living breathing creature as it funneled water higher and higher till a pelican was knocked out of flight. The large bird plummeted down but caught the wind before it broke the surface of the water and skimmed just above the vast sea. The boy broke the surface as the pelican skimmed above him; he reached up and felt the webbing of the bird’s feet tucked close against its body. The waterspout danced towards the horizon and the dolphin clicked to the boy. They swam away together parallel abreast pursuing the mighty tower of water, and occasionally the silhouette of fish large and small fell from the great column’s head and crashed to the water below.

The mighty sun that warmed the sand and palms on the little island passed overhead and slid down to meet the surface of the sea on the distant horizon. Seabirds called to each other as they sought shelter against the cooling night and lightning lit up the darkening sky as they found roosting. The rain that had been flirting with the island during the heat of the day seemed to draw moisture out of the very sea before it hurled it back down with force and vengeance like a slighted lover until the fronds were torn away from the palm and fell into the waves pummeling the beach. The dolphin and the boy returned to the lagoon in time to witness in flashes of light a nest of sea turtles hatching up from the wet sand. The hatchlings met the rough surf unhindered as the predatory seabirds were sheltered in the scrubby little palms and mangroves. The boy swam below and watched their little bodies silhouetted against the violent flashes of light blazing against their sky. The dolphin nudged the boy’s elbow with his nose and they continued swimming out along the reef where the skeleton of a blue whale swayed with the tide before disintegrating into the sand.

Tales from the Sea

 

A Nativity Moon 12.21.18

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The word nativity as found in Webster’s New World Dictionary: 1.birth, esp. with reference to place, time, or accompanying conditions 2. Astrol. the horoscope of one’s birth —the Nativity 1. The birth of Jesus 2. A representation of this 3. Christmas Day.

My mother had what appeared to my five year old eyes was a miniature stable and rather medieval looking as well. This little building came out like clockwork every Christmas Eve. Today people start gearing up to decorate for Christmas shortly after Halloween, but when I was a child there was a sensible cushion between major holidays. No matter how much I and my four brothers tried to move the decorations for Christmas closer to Thanksgiving my mother was immobile on that.

My mother grew up in a mountain community known to us today as Piney Ridge. She was adamant that a cut tree could not come into the house before Christmas Eve and it would leave promptly on New Year’s Day. It seemed a rather antiquated rule until I was brought to understand that a cut pine tree with electric lights was a serious fire hazard. Living on top of a mountain and the fire hall miles away and down in the valley of McConnellstown it was something no sensible mother would risk her home and children to, what if there were snow?

But we lived in the metropolis of Newport News, Virginia and certainly we could move with the times and my mother did eventually succumb to the convenience of a plastic Christmas tree that didn’t drop needles all over her carpet. What didn’t change for all the modern lights and synthetic trees and plug in candles to put in the window? What stayed exactly the same was that little stable. And that now that I am an adult I realize the merit of that primitive shelter was to remind all in our house why exactly we were celebrating.

The story of the Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams Blanco and even the finale of J.R.R. Tolkien’s character Frodo Baggins share a similar fate. While a stuffed toy that isn’t loved stays pristine and perfect on the shelf of the nursery it also runs no risk of ever becoming real. For Frodo a quiet hobbit of a safe haven known to millions of readers as the Shire, he loved his home is why he took up his pack and hit the road for the absolute scariest place in Middle Earth; Mordor. And did he become real? To face such wicked perils he would appear for those who had the ability to see to become a cup of light.

And that is what brings us back to that shabby little house that we placed our Papier-mâché figures in to represent the very unpretentious beginnings of Jesus Christ. I love that Webster’s merely says Jesus because there was only one born to a virgin mother in a stable. His first cradle was a manger, a trough for cattle and horses to graze from. No matter how glitzy a tree lighting in any cosmopolitan city on the planet is it seems to miss the entire point of the holiday.

 

If we say we’re wishing everyone a happy Christmas we should also remember that the child’s birth we are so dedicated to in our contemporary commercial extravaganza was crucified as an adult. I don’t mean figuratively, no he was actually crucified while his love ones looked on helplessly. Looking at our little stable we were reminded that the timbers that were used to make a shelter for animals could also be the means to crucify a man. If Jesus had not risen from the dead three days after his death there would be absolutely no reason to celebrate his rustic birth. We don’t say Happy Pontius Pilate Day do we?

We that live our whole lives in America often forget how hard our early patriots fought to win something as fundamental to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as in freedom of religion. This holiday season we look for the best and cheapest bargains to further our Christmas celebration. Our purchases may have come from the other side of the planet where individuals are not afforded the rights to worship as they wish or not at all. Think of the freedom we have to worship as we wish or choose not to worship at all, that is our privilege as Americans, but what about the people that produced our Christmas lights, ornaments, and gifts? Ultimately, those choices to save a little coin in our own pocket may come at the price of someone else’s liberty. To quote Thomas Paine, “…What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value…”

The nativity scene is also a representation of the struggle between the haves and the have-nots as well. Mary and Joseph were far from rich and influential; they were of little means and on the run from an oppressive régime. The origins of the early Christians was ubiquitous with people being murdered and martyred for their faith and that image of people being sacrificed because their beliefs conflicted with a totalitarian ruler is also at the beginning of a colony’s revolt. In our fulfilling land of America, we have the courage to believe that the little person can triumph over the giant much like David vanquished Goliath in the Old Testament.

This full moon I conclude my graphic story The Guild. It has been an eventful year and I look forward to the promise of new adventures in different locations with the New Year. May your holiday season be all that you could wish for. Only in a land of so many rich possibilities could we turn the quiet birth of a humble carpenter into a glitzy extravaganza worthy of a veteran showbiz entertainer in Hollywood.

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A Thanksgiving 11.22.18

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Today we gather with friends and family around the table of thanksgiving and we may hold hands, we may say grace. We may take a moment to share what we are all grateful for, but at midnight thousands, and quite possibly millions of Americans will put on their coats and binge shop like their lives depended on it. Tomorrow is November’s only full moon and while people are shopping for others will they pause and look up to the heavens and look at the moon? Many will say they go through this bizarre ritual for their children.

Children are the reason for the images of Santa Claus at this time of year, the reason for buying gifts. We do this to show our children the spirit of giving, to give is better to receive…And the mobs of shoppers waiting in the wee hours outside the mall for the doors to open, what example does that show our children. Children are always, always watching our example we show them and what being an adult means. Sure we have the power, authority, and the means to shop from midnight to 7a.m. to get what we want, but do we have the courage to say, “No! I am not this person that forces other people to work the night shift just so I can go shopping.”

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, what an odd and foreboding term to begin the celebration of the birthday of a savior. There is evidence to suggest that Jesus Christ was not actually born on December 25th. I find it unlikely that the day was ordained so that two thousand years later we could purchase battery operated toys from Asia, to wrap in paper that deforested land previously inhabited by endangered species, and place it all around a pine tree that once was the winter home of North American birds. Human beings are supposedly the most intelligent creatures on the planet and yet we behave more like the spoiled greedy children for the latest gadget we tell our own children not to be like.

Jesus Christ if you have read the New Testament spoke about people living with a lot less baggage. Of course there is the spiritual side of Christianity and regardless how I spend my Sunday mornings I refuse to dictate others follow my example; however when it comes to spoiling the only place any of us have ever called home I stand up and say, “Whoa!”

Before you look at your shopping list, before you print out coupons pretend it’s January 10th, 2019 and your credit card statement has just arrived. How much of that list is worth paying 26% interest for the next twelve to eighteen months. Those purchases could still be collecting interest next Christmas. Now picture if you will a church nativity scene, any church nativity scene, do you see the evergreen covered in ornaments? What about Mary with her new tablet and Joseph with the latest cellular phone so he can watch all his sporting events? How about the baby Jesus, is he wearing designer clothing? No, because if you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and I do mean as in God the creator of the entire universe and Earth; and if you follow the Holy Bible than you will understand that as an adult Jesus’ message was about adults doing with less, not more.

Am I trying to convert anyone to a particular religion? No, because no matter how I feel in my faith that goes against my staunch American views that people should be able to decide for themselves if there is a hereafter and how they wish to spend it. Thinking for ourselves is what I am trying to say, do not be a cog in the great machine of commerce and greed. Being a smart human being means not strapping ourselves down in debt just so a manufacturer can ship plastics by the ton across the big blue ocean. Eventually all those purchases will break, or fade and we’ll have to decide how to recycle it. And here is my last word, what if all the stuff we buy from faddish clothes to the cat’s used kitty litter we had to warehouse in our own backyard or our apartment? Well we do actually, because this planet is the only backyard we will ever have and the more we buy the more waste we have to manage, to mind and that’s more headaches for our children’s children. So this day after Thanksgiving give the gift that your grandchildren will really appreciate, a healthy planet.

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I am winding down my series The Art Guild, today is the last before the finale on December 22nd. We have all made a journey over the last twelve months and though it may not have been a physical voyage of discovery but surely an emotional one. I have found I loved working with soft pastels and this is a medium I look forward to playing with again and again. What new experience and exciting opportunity is waiting for us just around the corner of time in the New Year? What will we learn about ourselves and those around us we care for? The thing that may be important thing to remember is that a comet only moves in one direction, forward. Its bright trail may revisit a particular galaxy, and move forward to a new one. May we all be that bright example for others to follow.

 

An October Moon’s Chiaroscuro

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Chiaroscuro; the light and the dark combined in art to produce the illusion of depth, to create dramatic effect. There is no other month in our calendar year that draws out that quality better than any other, than October. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster is perhaps more about revealing in spite of our forty thousand years of civilization we still have ancient devils in our own dark sides. Why is October set aside for those 31 days of scary culminating in a sugar fest like no other? Do we need to be made to fear the dark, in ourselves and each other? Where did this all begin? An oral history told from one generation around a fire is a good beginning. All stories told are just better around a blazing fire that creates its own chiaroscuro.

Monster; the word can either mean enormous or terrifying and here at the end of October is the great celebration of all things terrifying: Halloween. Halloween in the ancient world was not a day of vampires or Frankenstein monsters, those are modern adaptations. What about those feared creatures that the ancient writers spun into their epic tales such as Medusa to make their heroes, appear, well more heroic?

Say the word Gorgon or even the one very famous sister whose name has come down through the ages and immediately we are reminded of a monster. A monster by definition is something that is horrifying or extremely unpleasant, but a beautiful woman terrifying? Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa all three reported to have been beauties. Ovid tells how Medusa was transformed from gorgeous Gorgon to become an instrument to slay yet another monster that nearly ripped a beautiful virgin to shreds.

Medusa so beautiful that Poseidon desired her, she desired him not. Medusa flees and takes sanctuary in Athena’s temple. Poseidon is not put off and pursues the maiden and ravishes her there dooming her for all time. Athena transforms her into a hideous and loathsome monster. If the sea god had chosen any other location but Athena’s temple we would not have this tale of a maiden that not only has her virtue stolen from her but Athena’s wrath was final. So the lesson here is: be not so beautiful to tempt the desire or jealousy of the very powerful.

Medusa inherited a head of beautiful golden hair and this might have placed her in a position of power and yet it was her very undoing. In the ancient world before plastic surgery and all the benefits of liposuction a woman had to inherit good genes, now anyone with a credit card can buy them. Appearance and impressions can be the very factor in how any one person succeeds or fails.

Ancient mythology had several horrifying females young male warriors needed to defeat. On the seas sailors must be wary of Sirens that reportedly had no other purpose than to lead young men to a watery death. It is peculiar that the most dangerous enemy a young warrior can do battle with is a monstrously mutated female. If Perseus had not used dead Medusa’s gaze to defeat famed sea monster Cetus, to rescue beautiful Andromeda would he have been called a hero?

Scylla was a beautiful sea nymph desired by the fisherman transformed into minor sea god Glaucus. Scylla like Medusa desired him not, but he at least sought the help of sorceress Circe to turn Scylla’s rejection into acceptance. Unfortunately for Scylla, Circe wanted Glaucus for herself and so she created a toxic brew to pour into the sea nymph’s pool turning her into a horrible creature with yapping dog heads in her nether regions. This is something not even author Mary Shelley would do to her hero/monster. Being both beautiful and a virgin only brought evil to Andromeda, Medusa and Scylla. Did the ancient writers have a secret loathing of beautiful virgins?

Medea is another female of nefarious history she had a burning passion for young Jason of the Golden Fleece. Medea was daughter to the king of Colchis. Ovid stops short of calling her a princess. Even in the ancient world it seems a princess wouldn’t be quite so fiery about anything, as one cannot be both a chaste virgin and an ardent woman willing to commit a great sin against her own royal house. If you look further into the tale Medea didn’t lose her heart to Jason on his own merit but by the interfering love arrow shot by Cupid; by goddess Hera’s command.

Ancient stories of long gone humans be it Christian or pagan it seems a habit of heroes to falter not by their own faux pas but it seems a woman is to blame. Even Adam hid behind Eve’s skirts before Eve even had s skirt to hide behind. Genesis 1:12 The man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.” Eve may have been the first female to have fallen with serpents but not the last.

Ovid’s account of Tisiphone with her tresses loaded with serpents and “girt round her waist a writhing snake,” this Fury leaves no doubt to her serious calling. It seems that like being a virgin, there are no half-measures; either one is a monster all the way or not at all.

Modern readers reading of one ancient hero after another that has his greatest challenge not with an equal opponent but of a female transformed grotesquely by the envy of yet a more powerful female may question who the genuine monster is. Are the ancient writers suggesting that in order for a woman to be equal to a man she must become an actual monster? We look to writers Ovid, Homer, and Virgil; all men leaning on the mystery of monstrous women to make their heroes appear more valiant and their boldness more compelling. Jealousy is present in such a transformation for would the goddess Athena altered Medusa’s golden locks if Poseidon had not ravished her in a temple dedicated to Athena? Would Circe have treated Scylla so ill if she had chosen Glaucus first? Would Poseidon have sent a sea monster to rip Andromeda apart if her mother had not boasted her daughter was more beautiful than all the Nereids?

When I see any ancient representation of Medusa or even the Fury Tisiphone their hair loaded with serpents I think the most forbidding obstacle a man of means could be confronted by was a woman with intelligence and the nerve to speak her opinion. An audacious and intelligent woman was not seen as an equal but rather a monster. Today more than a dozen centuries have passed since these myths were written down and still the drama of the light and the dark are ever present in our world. It is amazing how the centuries change and there are still some people astonished by strong females who are not afraid to speak up and out about ungallant men.

October 24th we welcome our autumn full moon and with it part XII of The Guild.  Cygnet, Silas and Sybella flee from the dark of their subterranean prison to the light above where the greatest danger may lie in wait. May the luminous radiance of our lunar partner reveal only friends and no fiends! What will be the bane of your day? Have you enough candy stowed for the annual visit of monsters, ghouls and faerie princesses’? It would be wonderful if all villains could be simply stopped by the gift of delicious candy. A very happy All Hallows’ Eve to all!

A An Escape 10.23.18 - a post

 

Seeing the Light 9.23.18

A an 1 Starry Night 2

Today we recognize the arrival of the autumnal equinox; already? How did our summer sail by so quickly? Was I not paying enough attention to our warm humidity and the ravenous humming birds? They say that time flies when you’re having fun, while winter for me is like biding my time in an unpleasant waiting room. Tick-tock our days grow shorter by the seconds, every single day until spring.

Less light, and less warmth will eventually lead to colder weather and finally our beautiful trees will be naked, again. I do not like cold and I really do not like snow. I like my woodlands rich and lush, however thriving luxuriant forests hinder my view of the night sky, and I absolutely love a rich lapis lazuli night sky.

The daylight turns to indigo and this is the time when there is a chill in the air to pull on a sweater and pour a glass of rich red Malbec wine and enjoy our patio. Light the fire pit and take a moment to count the stars overhead and listen to the birds settle in for the night. We may wish to take a little time away from technology and autumnal evenings were made for candlelight, delicious wine and wonderful company.

What’s on the fall television schedule? Isn’t that why we have those handy DVR’s, so we can enjoy our life in actual time and watch our favorite shows when the weather isn’t so favorable to the glow of a fire pit. Life is precious; we should be gathering up those golden moments before the weather turns dreary and we’re camped inside waiting for better temperatures. The obvious reason for watching a particular program is because we want to be transported safely to another location without the inconvenience of having to actually to go out into the world. Travel offers adventure and also misadventure as well, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz we can enjoy the night sky in the comfort of our own backyards.

For our next installment of The Guild my drawing was inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. The painting is a rich portrait of the night sky painted by someone, who at the time was a resident of a hospital. It is clear and obvious now that Vincent van Gogh suffered with depression and his pain may have led to his early and unfortunate death. Look at the rich legacy he left, spite of his terrible illness he passionately pursued painting and that can benefit us all.

For me art is an enormously fulfilling opportunity, because while the television programming may be disappointing a wet medium like paint doesn’t permit any laziness. I might be whimsical with a pastel sketch, but paint and especially acrylic paint doesn’t carry sluggishness and I must have my game plan in place before I pour any paint.

I look to the outdoors for inspiration and even to the masterpieces Mr. Van Gogh left to us. He was not truly appreciated in his own lifetime and died tragically by his own hand, the very same hand that created the stunning Starry Night painting. If he had the realization that he was creating work that would be valued at upwards of one hundred million dollars would he have found the way to go on with life?

We may enjoy the opulent paintings of Vincent van Gogh in many of the cosmopolitan communities throughout the world or we may take a moment to enjoy the actual night sky with our particular tribe. What are you doing tonight? Why not enjoy the night sky the way our ancestors did; around a glowing fire with loved ones.

A 1 The Light 9.23.18 - to use